The mother of three was bitten by a cobra that hadn’t been defanged. An antidote was offered to her by the snake handler but she refused it.
According to Irma’s mother, Encum, most snakes are defanged and have their mouths taped shut when they’re onstage. Somehow this snake was made part of the performance without either precaution and the singer did not realize that she had been bitten by a poisonous snake.
In the middle of her second song, Irma stepped on the snake’s tail, and it then bit her on the thigh; 45 minutes after the bite, Bule started throwing up on stage and collapsed.
She was rushed to the hospital, where she was declared dead. Irma Bule’s case highlights the poverty-stricken lives of young women in Indonesia. They perform on stage in skimpy clothes in various villages hoping to make it big. Performing with snakes gets them around Rs 1,700; while without snakes, they make around Rs 1,300. It’s no wonder then that many choose to perform with pythons and cobras.